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It happens again and again and again in Afghanistan, just as it does in Pakistan, and has happened again and again in Iraq.  A US drone sees something that the drone operator thinks is militants, and orders some bombs dropped.  The locals come out and protest and claim that the dead were civilians.  Sometime later, an investigation is done, and it turns out the locals were correct.  Some asshat apologizes, they give the victims some money, and then the US goes out and does it again.

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Forever and ever.... Well, maybe one day this forever war on civilians will be over, but no sign of that today.  President Obama is intent on ramping it up, and currently has more US troops in combat than President Bush ever did. He is spending much more money on these forever wars too.  (Sure glad we are rich!)  And, just like Bush, he goes and puts wreaths on graves and talks about honoring our combatants while ignoring the civilian deaths from the decisions of the US government.  

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I don’t know why I care about the death of the non-combatants (maybe I was a victim of war in a past life?), but I do and will continue to do so until I no longer draw breath.  What I really don’t get is all the romanticizing of the deaths of combatants, both here in the USA and in the countries where we start up wars of aggression.  Or anywhere, for that matter.

And today, I am going to remember 23 non-combatants, who were sighted by a US drone in a convoy and then tracked for 3 ½ hours.  One would think in that time they might have gotten a clue that the convoy was made up of families trying to escape the ongoing violence, but those drone operators never got a clue.  There were women and children in the convoy, but they thought they were Taliban.  And the Special Forces that they conveyed information too also did not have a clue, but they sure had deadly weapons.  

U.S. acknowledges mistaken attack on Afghan civilians

The U.S. military acknowledged on Saturday killing 23 civilians and wounding 12 others earlier this year after mistaking them for a convoy of Taliban insurgents.  The U.S. report into the incident, which happened in Uruzgan, said the crew of a remote-controlled drone aircraft had "provided inaccurate reporting" ahead of the incident and local command posts "failed to properly analyze the situation."  "Information that the convoy was anything other than an attacking force was ignored or downplayed by UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) personal," it said.

This, of course, is routine for drone operators to get the information wrong.  They think cameras are RPGs.  They think children are combatants.  But in this case, the US helicopters that fired on them did not recognize that they were firing on civilians, at least at first.  This report says they did finally recognize this, but locals said they kept firing on them even when the women were waving their head scarves at the helicopters (I cannot find the link to that claim at this time.)

U.S. report faults Air Force drone crew, ground commanders in Afghan civilian deaths

In the Oruzgan incident, in which 12 civilians were wounded in addition to those killed, a Kiowa attack-reconnaissance helicopter launched Hellfire missiles and rockets at two sport-utility vehicles and a pickup truck. The report indicated that the Predator, normally armed with two Hellfire missiles, did not fire.

The report said the Kiowa stopped firing when its crew spotted brightly colored clothing, indicating women and children. It also said the 23 people killed were men, and that three children and a woman were among those wounded. At the time, Afghan officials said that at least 27 civilians were killed, many of them women and children.

And, afterwards, the US military claimed they were shooting (or bombing) at the Taliban.  The locals went into the streets to protest the killing of more civilians.  Some of the injured went to visit their politicians in Kabul.  

There have been some reprimands over this killing of non-combatants, but really, what difference does that make?  The troops on the ground and in the helicopters were only trying to do the job they were sent to Afghanistan for – that is, kill people and break their shit – and the ‘reprimands’ neither bring back the dead or stop the next incident from happening.  

US reprimands six over deadly air strike in Afghanistan

The US military has reprimanded six operators of an unmanned drone, which mistakenly attacked a civilian convoy in Afghanistan killing at least 23.  Warnings that the convoy was not an attacking force were ignored or played down, while the ground-force commander was not sure who was in the vehicles, an investigation found.  The deadly assault took place in Uruzgan Province in February.

It seems silly to me to reprimand our troops for doing a job we told them to do.  It also seems like a stupid, empty gesture.   The intelligent thing to do would be to get our troops out of there so they can no longer kill other people in a war of aggression, but doing the intelligent thing is apparently off the table.

The killing of civilians in Afghanistan, like Iraq, is routine.  You can read about them in this blog.

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Some information on just how tough things are for the civilians of Afghanistan is here.

Dr Sirajuddin Kakar, a doctor at Sustainable Outreach Services (SOS), which provides nutrients to mothers, said the rising insecurity was preventing families from harvesting crops and accessing food for their children.  "Just to step outside their front door has become a risk to many people. If a child is sick, a mother chooses to keep it at home rather than risk taking it to a health  centre for treatment. Some children are literally starving in their homes because their parents are too scared, or unable, to earn the money needed to feed them properly."

"All wars are wars against children." – Howard Zinn

Originally posted to dancewater on Mon May 31, 2010 at 02:32 PM PDT.

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